Simone Biles is the superstar of the women’s U.S. gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 19-year-old’s rags-to-riches story is a source of inspiration to millions of young girls.
After shuttling between her drug-addicted mother and multiple foster homes, 6-year-old Simone was adopted by her grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles, who also adopted her sister Adria.
Her 2 brothers were adopted by Ron’s sister. The children grew up in a family of high achievers and devout Catholics.
“She was very good in Confirmation class,” recalls Father Charles Semperi of St. James the Apostle Church where the family worships every Sunday.
He described the Biles family as “very faithful Catholics who are always at Mass.”
“Her parents also introduced Simone to her Christian faith,” wrote Independent Journal Review reporter Benny Johnson. “Simone prays regularly and carries a rosary that her mother gave her.”
According to the Us magazine, Simone carries that rosary with her in her gym bag.
“My mom, Nellie, got me a rosary at church,” she told Us magazine. “I don’t use it to pray before a competition. I’ll just pray normally to myself, but I have it there in case.”
Simone has already won a gold medal in the women’s team all-around competition.
On Thursday, Simone will compete for the coveted gold medal in the individual all-around final.
Mary Lou Retton, who won a gold medalist in the individual all-around at 1984 Summer Olympics, calls the all-around gold “the queen bee” medal because it “is the most important”.
“I think [Simone] needs it as part of her repertoire,” Retton said after the American Cup in early 2016.
And if she doesn’t get it?
“I just don’t see that happening, at all,” she said.